South-east governors are failing their people and shifting blame to the centre.
They are averse to economic integration, can’t attract investors and watch while infrastructures within their domain decay.
The South-east has the highest number of abandoned projects, with state projects featuring prominently, a 2019 survey
by the Chartered Institute of Project Management of Nigeria said.
There are 15,000 abandoned projects in the SouthEast; 11,000 in the SouthSouth; 10,000 in the SouthWest; 6,000 in the North-west; 7,000 in the North-central; 5,000 in North-east, and 2,000 in Abuja, the report said.
For over 12 years now, the Enugu-onitsha Expressway has been in a state of disrepair, wasting the lives of commuters in accidents and gunshots from dare-devil armed robbers.
Yet, past and present governors of Enugu and Anambra States have failed to galvanise finances to build that road, justifying their inaction with a lame excuse that it is a federal road.
Their empty excuse contradicts interventions in other parts of the country.
On September 8, Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State governor, disclosed that he was working with Babajide Sanwo-olu, Lagos State governor, to build and commercialise three federal roads: Ikorodu-ogijo-sagamu, EpeIjebu-ode and Lagos-otaAbeokuta roads.
“I met with my counterpart, Sanwo-olu, and we decided that as a matter of urgency, we need to take over some roads which include Epe-ijebu road, Ikorodu-sagamu road and Lagos-ota-abeokuta road so as to reduce the population of the people passing the LagosIbadan Expressway,” Abiodun said.
“Sanwo-olu and I met with the president to hand over those three roads… A few weeks ago, the president handed over the roads to us,” he further said.
Several Nigerians from the South-east region have died on Enugu-onitsha Expressway. On June 11, 2018, a family of seven died on EnuguOnitsha Expressway in one out of hundreds of fatal accidents that occur on that road.
The road is currently under construction by the Federal Government, but such construction has been on since 2007 during the time of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. Several federal roads in the region are dilapidated, but state roads are also not better.
From Anambra to Imo, down to Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi, roads are death traps, Businessday checks show. In Imo St at e, Na z e – Nekede-iheagwa Road is an eyesore. Students pay N150 instead of N100 to go to school from Owerri town, with commercial motorcyclists having a field day. The state has become one big dumping site – with wastes dumped along the streets, thereby courting disease outbreak.
South-east states are not among the poorest in the country. Abia State got N33.52 billion in federal allocation and internally generated revenue in the first and second quarters of 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Anambra has N32.23 billion while Ebonyi got N26.5 billion. Enugu State’s share was N35.7 billion and Imo got N37.4 billion.
The cost of rehabilitation of Enugu-onitsha road is N7.35 billion, according to the Federal Ministry of Works’ record. Mbaise-umuahia Road costs only N102.5 million.
“Nobody is feeling the impact of those governors,” Sam Oyigbo, lawyer and pastor, said.
“Their roads are terrible. Streetlights in Anambra and many of the states are not working. No water, no security, and taxes are increasing, but you will not see what they do with the revenue they get,” he said.
Analysts say the region’s governors have failed to attract investors owing to policy inconsistency and petty politics. In real sector investments, the region has attracted only 3-5 percent of investments in the last seven years, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria data.
There is a case in hand. Few years ago, a Chinese machine maker Zhengzhou QI’E Grain and Oil Machinery Co Limited planned to invest over $10 million in small-scale palm oil mills in five states in Nigeria, including Imo and Anambra. Zhengzhou was to provide funds and machines to the small-scale palm oil millers to enable them supply it with palm oil.
Letters were sent to governors of the states to provide land for smallholder farmers for expansion, according to Igwe Hilary-uche, president of Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN).